100 qurush note

Ottoman, AD 1877
Modern Turkey

An insolvent government prints its own money

In the mid-1870s the Ottoman Empire was in decline and facing financial disaster. Drought followed by floods caused poverty and famine, while interest payments on the public debt accounted for over half of the national income. Foreign credit was difficult to obtain, and the Imperial Ottoman Bank was reluctant to lend to its insolvent government. The situation was made even worse by uprisings in the Balkans, leading to the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

The Ottoman government tried to ease its financial burden by issuing its own paper money. The carefully regulated issue of notes by the Ottoman Imperial Bank was temporarily suspended, and new notes were produced, like the one shown here. However, the Imperial Bank was responsible for numbering the notes, and so played a part in putting them into circulation. At first the government attempted to limit the number of notes, but as the financial demands of the state grew, so did the temptation to issue ever more notes. Ultimately, notes to a total value of over a thousand million qurush, or piastres, were issued. Far too many notes were issued; by March 1879 they were worth less than 10% of their face value.

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100 qurush note


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More information


E. Eldem, Banknotes of the Imperial Otto (Ottoman Bank, 1999)


Height: 135.000 mm
Width: 185.000 mm

Museum number

CM 1984-6-5-6905



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